Scriptures

The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Faithfulness

Introduction

Before one can understand

‘the fruit of the Spirit,’

one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a

‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11,

‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted of the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself from each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with

‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4+7+10

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ is become of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and is to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since

‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4

to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of

‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’

in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today by the Spirit inspired Word. Peter wrote,

‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us

‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15

and

‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16

It provides us with

‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the way side, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said,

‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the way side, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it

‘brings forth fruit with patience,’

that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9+11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds

‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9

Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those

‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1+4 / Galatians 5:16

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’

‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said,

‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33

And,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.

Faithfulness

‘Faithfulness’ is the seventh attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Along with ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness’, there is ‘faith’, all describing the singular fruit of the Spirit. Though faith should not be emphasised above the other characteristics, it’s a vital and crucial topic because without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6.

However, in order to please God, we must have the right kind of faith. Not just any faith pleases God nor is this characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. Within the pages of the Bible, there are basically two kinds of faith, dead faith which is the faith of devils and saving faith. The faith of devils is mere belief or knowledge of facts. James says,

‘You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’ James 2:19

The devils have knowledge of who God is and who God’s Son is. They also know and believe Jesus died for the sins of the world, but this is as far as their faith goes. They don’t have saving faith, and, therefore, they tremble in fear of God and His judgment.

Saving faith is belief coupled with obedience of acts of faith. When Paul was in Philippi, he and Silas were beaten and imprisoned. After the miracle of the earthquake, the jailhouse doors were opened, and

‘everyone’s chains were broken,’ the Jailer asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:19-30

Paul answered,

‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Acts 16:31

Was Paul commanding them to merely believe?

I think not. Why? Because of the following verses. In Acts 16:32, the text goes on to say,

‘Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.’

Because

‘Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message,’ Romans 10:17

their faith was being increased by the word spoken to them.

Then Acts 16:33 says,

‘At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised.’

Why did the Jailor and his family wash their stripes?

Because they were repenting of their sin of beating Paul and Silas. By washing their stripes, they were helping the heeling process, and thus correcting their sin as much as humanly possible. Also notice in this verse, they were baptised.

Finally, in Acts 16:34, we find them rejoicing. Why? Because their sins were washed away. At the point of mere belief? No, after they heard the word, repented, and were baptised. Finally, notice the summary Luke gives by inspiration,

‘believing in God with all his house.’ Acts 16:34

Luke summarizes all that they did in the word ‘believing.’ Thus, we see saving faith includes acts of obedience.

For this reason, James says.

James 2:18 ‘But someone will say, ‘you have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’

James 2:20 ‘You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?’

James 2:22 ‘You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.’

James 2:24 ‘You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.’

James 2:26 ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’

Therefore, without obedient, saving faith it is impossible to please God.

Now that we understand there are two kinds of faith,

what is faith?

Some would point to Hebrews 11:1 for a definition of faith. However, this is more of a description of faith than a definition. Hebrews 11:1 says,

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

From this verse we learn some more qualities of faith. Within faith, there is substance or a quality of confidence which helps a person to endure, and there is evidence which is proof. It is not some ‘leap in the dark’ but has its foundation in proof.

So, what is faith?

The actual definition of faith is ‘firm persuasion’ or ‘firm conviction based upon being persuaded.’ However, it is used three basic ways within Scripture.

1. The word faith is used of ‘trust’.

In 1 Corinthians 2:5, Paul wrote,

‘That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.’

Paul was speaking about trust. We should not put our trust in man’s wisdom but in the power of God. The Jews of old trusted in their own wisdom, and God lead them into captivity.

Today, rather than trusting God and preaching His Word, many draw disciples after them by the wisdom of man with good words and fair speeches, Romans 16:18. Let us grow in faith by trusting God and taking Him at His word.

2. The word faith is used of ‘trustworthiness’.

Paul wrote in Titus 2:10,

‘to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.’

The word translated ‘fully trusted’ in this verse could have been translated ‘faith.’ It is the same Greek word.

To show ‘full trust’ is to show one’s trustworthiness, dependability, or reliability. This is probably the specific characteristic Paul is describing in the fruit of the Spirit. When the Bible talks about the faithfulness of God, Deuteronomy 7:9 / 1 Corinthians 1:9 / 1 Corinthians 10:13, it is this characteristic.

When we read of those who are ‘faithful in Christ Jesus,’ Ephesians 1:1 / Colossians 1:2, again it is this characteristic. Please notice this application, in order to be faithful in Christ Jesus, one must have full trust. His or her life must be characterised by trustworthiness and dependability to God, His Word, and His people.

3. The word faith is used in reference to a scheme of ‘belief’.

By inspiration, this is generally designated as ‘the faith’ and refers to the Holy Scriptures by which we grow in faith, Romans 10:17.

Luke records,

‘And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith’, Acts 6:7

They were obedient to a scheme of belief or system of faith. Nearing the end of his life, Paul wrote,

‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’. 2 Timothy 4:7

Again, Paul kept a system of belief, the Word of God. Finally, Jude wrote we

‘should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,’ Jude 3

Similarly, Paul said,

‘I am set for the defence of the gospel’, Philippians 1:17

To defend the Gospel and to earnestly contend for the faith is the same concept.

Notice further, Jude said, the faith ‘was once delivered unto the saints’ or ‘once for all delivered’. The Bible is the complete revelation of God. There is no place and no need for further revelation for God has given

‘unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness’. 2 Peter 1:3

Faith isn’t some subjective leap in the dark. It’s concrete and objective. It has its foundation in the Word of God. Since without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6, let us determine now to grow in faith.

How?

By reading and studying God’s eternal word for

‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.’ Romans 10:17

Let’s do more than just maintain this marvellous attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, let’s grow in faith so that we will not have ‘little faith’, Matthew 6:30 but will have ‘great faith’ as the centurion, Matthew 8:10 and the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15:28.

And let us be like Abraham, the father of the faithful, who was ‘not weak in faith’ but ‘was strong in faith,’ Romans 4:18+19. Therefore, like the apostles, we plead unto the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’. Luke 17:5.

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint. They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, with family, and with friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person of future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is

‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

Acts 18:11

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